You may not have the slightest interest in becoming a professional writer but even if you don’t, you and everyone you know would be wise to learn how to write at a professional level. So what, exactly, does that mean? It refers to becoming the best writer YOU can be and there are numerous, important reasons — obvious and subtle.
The most important: clear, effective writing and clear effective communication are inseparable. Besides helping us communicate effectively, good writing also can be an amazing stress-management tool. Writing does help us deal with trauma, helps with problem solving, and even helps give us insight into setting goals and identifying our motives.
Every successful writer knows that the only way to become a better writer is to write regularly — in fact, daily. It may be hard to believe, but almost every good writer does write every day and it doesn’t matter whether they have only twenty minutes in which to write or can indulge in several hours. More interesting, daily writing also has been shown to have a positive impact on the quality of the words we use and the cohesiveness of our thoughts.
Last month, I decided I’d test the “daily writing practice” approach myself. That required me to commit to write every single day without fail for two weeks straight. But I couldn’t trust myself so, to insure I’d stick to my plan, I made a deal with a writer friend. My deal? I agreed to email her the first and last lines of my daily writing practices each day for two weeks plus include the date-time stamp and word count in my emails. I set my minimum daily goal at 250 words. But that was only my commitment. There was more! Any day I failed to meet my commitment, I’d owe her a gift certificate for a manicure-pedicure at our local nail salon.
The first four days went fantastically well, I’m happy to note. However, that fifth day? Everything cratered. I sat and stared at my paper for what really did feel like an hour as my anxiety mounted. Good god! The longer I tried to think of something to write about, the more idiotic I felt. Worse, my stress escalated. What in the world can I possibly write about? How or where do I begin? What’s interesting and different? I sat in silence, agonizing. The next instant, I was startled by a loud pop from my kitchen. Moving toward the doorway with great caution, I stared in.
I saw what awaited me and knew, immediately, my topic-finding troubles had ended. So preoccupied had I been worrying about finding a topic I could write about, that the two eggs I’d put into a small saucepan to cook had exploded after all the water had boiled away. My kitchen ceiling and walls were splattered with chunks of exploded egg yolk, egg white, bits of shells. Did I really need to look any further for daily writing prompts beyond my own surroundings? Certainly not!
The experience proved an excellent game-changer for me. Every day, for the next ten, I simply picked one item in my field of vision, scribbled down “brainstorming” thoughts about it, then began to write. The process was surprisingly inspiring and productive. Best of all, I really did surprise myself with the quality of my writing.
On my tenth writing day challenge, I noticed I’d begun to look forward to my daily “alone time” with pen and paper, with my private thoughts, and to my small (albeit consistent) accomplishments. The last day of the challenge arrived, landing on a Saturday. But the next day, Sunday, was a free day. After I’d grabbed a cup of coffee, I moved to the sofa to read my New York Times but when I sat down, I realized I felt as though something important was missing from my day — an odd, almost uncomfortable, sensation.
In that one moment, I was clear that in just two weeks, I’d become so attached to my daily writing practice that I missed both the routine plus much more I’d come to associate with it all. Its place on my list of daily priorities had evolved. During the process, daily writing had been transformed from an obligation that put me on edge to one that became routine and exceedingly pleasurable. But the best yet: as I reread my practice sheets from each of the fourteen days, I’m proud to note how obvious of an improvement the quality of my writing showed. So, what could eight weeks of daily writing do?
I’m definitely ready to have a try at it! Are you?